After claiming a draw and two precious away goals in the first leg, Manchester City will be firmly eyeing a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League when they welcome Paris St. Germain to the Etihad Stadium.
Put simply, a clean sheet will be enough for Manuel Pellegrini’s side to book their place in the last four. With the way they are currently defending that does not appear likely, so more realistically their best chance would be to avoid defeat, unless the game does not end in a high-scoring draw. If the scores are level at 2-2 on the night after 90 minutes, it will go to extra time.
There was rarely a dull moment in a first leg full of incident in the French capital, where after being denied from the penalty spot and seeing themselves fall behind, PSG forced their way into a position of control as Thiago Motta dictated the play in the midfield with his assured touch, and it seemed possible that their superiority would lead to further goals.
However, luck was often against them and it was again the case when Man City broke forward and found a valuable equaliser as Fernandinho’s shot took two deflections before nestling in the bottom corner. There were also a number of other near misses for PSG to reflect on as Zlatan Ibrahimovic is particular would have been ruing a couple of golden opportunities that went begging.
Of course, the Swede did get on the scoresheet in albeit freakish circumstances as Fernando committed a shocking error to bring the home side back on terms. Such naivety is not what City are looking for here, especially against a side with such immense attacking quality, and one mistake could be the difference between them making it through or not.
City are boosted here by the fact that David Luiz and Blaise Matuidi will both be missing through suspension for PSG. Matuidi’s absence will especially make a big difference as his work rate is not matched by any of his teammates. The amount of work he gets through is such that the gap he leaves will be noticeable, and allow Man City that little bit more freedom in midfield areas, where the likes of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva can be more effective.
The most important thing here though for City is maintaining their discipline and not inviting any pressure from PSG, a team whose movement can penetrate an opposition side at any given time. Central defenders Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi were not the most solid of pairings in Paris, but this is a game which demands maximum concentration and effective game-management. Get that right and City can seal a place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in their history, while prolonging the wait for PSG to finally make their mark.